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Brazilian Wandering Spider Colony Hiding In Bananas In British Supermarket

Brazilian Wandering Spider Colony Hiding In Bananas In British Supermarket | InsectNews | Scoop.it

A colony of the world’s most venomous spiders, the Brazilian wandering spider, have been found crawling over bananas bought from a supermarket, it has been reported.

 

Brazilian wandering spiders are found in South and Central America and are known to hide in banana plants and a wide range of other places.

 

A mother has told of her horror after spotting “dozens” of the deadly Brazilian wandering spiders on the skin of the fruit at her home in London.

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Blood molecules preserved for millions of years in abdomen of fossil mosquito

Blood molecules preserved for millions of years in abdomen of fossil mosquito | InsectNews | Scoop.it

ometime during the Middle Eocene a prehistoric mosquito slurped down a final blood meal then died and sank to the bottom of a pond in what is now northwestern Montana. Slowly covered in fine sediments it eventually became encased and compressed in a protective layer of shale. Now, that mosquito and its blood-filled abdomen are providing scientists stunning new evidence that blood molecules can be preserved through deep time—in this case 46 million years.

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How to pack and ship pinned insect specimens

How to pack and ship pinned insect specimens | InsectNews | Scoop.it

Here I offer some general tips on the best way to pack and ship pinned insect specimens for shipment. While these remarks are broadly applicable to pinned insects in general, they are given from the perspective of a someone who collects beetles—specimens of which are relatively small to moderate in size, hard-bodied, and compact in form. Insects from other groups, especially those with large, fragile species such as Lepidoptera and Orthoptera, may require additional precautions to minimize the risk of damage.

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LOOK: Fly's Puny Wings Pack Scary Surprise

LOOK: Fly's Puny Wings Pack Scary Surprise | InsectNews | Scoop.it

What is this bizarre fruit fly with wing markings that look remarkably like...more bugs? Goniurellia tridens is a member of the Tephritidae fly family, known as "peacock flies" for their colorful wing patterns. G. tridens was first identified in 1910 by an Austrian entomologist, Friedrich Georg Handel, and spotted in the United Arab Emirates by Dr. Brigitte Howarth, an ecologist and fly specialist at the UAE's Zayed University.

 

Howarth believes G. tridens' markings may play a role in courtship, making the fruit flies appear more attractive as they show off to each other, The National reported.

 

Others believe the insect-like patterns on the wings may help scare off would-be predators, like spiders.

Matti Virtala's insight:

http://www.biodiversityinfocus.com/blog/2013/11/06/ants-spiders-or-wishful-thinking/

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Spider Venom May Help Insecticides Become Environmentally Friendly

Spider Venom May Help Insecticides Become Environmentally Friendly | InsectNews | Scoop.it

University of Queensland researchers have found a natural component of Australian tarantula venom that is more potent against certain insect pests than existing chemical insecticides.

The researchers, led by Professor Glenn King and Dr Maggie Hardy, identified a toxin known as OAIP-1 that is lethal if eaten by the cotton bollworm or termites.

Professor King said OAIP-1 could be developed into an environmentally friendly insecticide.

    “There is an urgent need for new insecticides due to insects becoming resistant to existing products and others being deregistered due to perceived ecological and human health risks,” Professor King said.

    “Cotton bollworms cause major economic damage to crops and the toxin we have isolated is more potent against these insects than existing chemical insecticides.

    “OAIP-1 is also orally active, meaning insects just have to eat the toxin in order for it to work.”

Dr Hardy said numerous insecticidal toxins have already been isolated from spider venom but very few of these have been tested to determine whether they are orally active, a vital property for an effective insecticide.

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Vertical heterogeneity in predation pressure in a temperate forest canopy

Vertical heterogeneity in predation pressure in a temperate forest canopy | InsectNews | Scoop.it

The forest canopy offers a vertical gradient across which variation in predation pressure implies variation in refuge quality for arthropods. Direct and indirect experimental approaches were combined to assess whether canopy strata differ in ability to offer refuge to various arthropod groups.

 

Vertical heterogeneity in impact of avian predators was quantified using exclosure cages in the understory, lower, mid, and upper canopy of a north-temperate deciduous forest near Montreal, Quebec. Bait trials were completed in the same strata to investigate the effects of invertebrate predators. Exclusion of birds yielded higher arthropod densities across all strata, although treatment effects were small for some taxa. Observed gradients in predation pressure were similar for both birds and invertebrate predators; the highest predation pressure was observed in the understory and decreased with height.

 

Our findings support a view of the forest canopy that is heterogeneous with respect to arthropod refuge from natural enemies.

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Researchers develop artificial surfaces insects cannot stick to

Researchers develop artificial surfaces insects cannot stick to | InsectNews | Scoop.it

Beetles, cockroaches, and ants will have a harder time walking on facades or air conditioners in the future - thanks to the bio-inspired, anti-adhesive surfaces Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck, Dr. Bettina Prüm, and Dr. Holger Bohn are developing together with the Plant Biomechanics Group of the University of Freiburg. The team studied plant surfaces in order to determine what influence cell form and microstructure as well as surface chemistry exert on the adhesion behavior of insects.

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Weather Forecasting by Insects: Modified Sexual Behaviour in Response to Atmospheric Pressure Changes

Weather Forecasting by Insects: Modified Sexual Behaviour in Response to Atmospheric Pressure Changes | InsectNews | Scoop.it

Prevailing abiotic conditions may positively or negatively impact insects at both the individual and population levels. For example while moderate rainfall and wind velocity may provide conditions that favour development, as well as movement within and between habitats, high winds and heavy rains can significantly decrease life expectancy. There is some evidence that insects adjust their behaviours associated with flight, mating and foraging in response to changes in barometric pressure.

 

We studied changes in different mating behaviours of three taxonomically unrelated insects, the curcurbit beetle, Diabrotica speciosa (Coleoptera), the true armyworm moth, Pseudaletia unipuncta (Lepidoptera) and the potato aphid, Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Hemiptera), when subjected to natural or experimentally manipulated changes in atmospheric pressure.

 

In response to decreasing barometric pressure, male beetles exhibited decreased locomotory activity in a Y-tube olfactometer with female pheromone extracts. However, when placed in close proximity to females, they exhibited reduced courtship sequences and the precopulatory period.Under the same situations, females of the true armyworm and the potato aphid exhibited significantly reduced calling behaviour. Neither the movement of male beetles nor the calling of armyworm females differed between stable and increasing atmospheric pressure conditions. However, in the case of the armyworm there was a significant decrease in the incidence of mating under rising atmospheric conditions, suggesting an effect on male behaviour. When atmospheric pressure rose, very few M. euphorbiae oviparae called. This was similar to the situation observed under decreasing conditions, and consequently very little mating was observed in this species except under stable conditions. All species exhibited behavioural modifications, but there were interspecific differences related to size-related flight ability and the diel periodicity of mating activity.

 

We postulate that the observed behavioral modifications, especially under decreasing barometric pressure would reduce the probability of injury or death under adverse weather conditions.

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Poorly camouflaged insects can kick off a cascade of ecological impacts, study finds

Poorly camouflaged insects can kick off a cascade of ecological impacts, study finds | InsectNews | Scoop.it

The scientists found that a walking stick insect that is not well camouflaged is more likely to be eaten by birds, and in turn, those birds are then also more likely to feast on the spiders, caterpillars, plant hoppers, ants and other arthropods living on the same plant. The resulting overall reduction in bugs living on the plant also means that the plant itself was less likely to be attacked by sap-feeding insects.

"Our study shows that the evolution of poor camouflage in one species can affect all the other species living there and affect the plant as well," said Tim Farkas, lead author of the study published in the journal Current Biology. "It's intuitive, but also really surprising."

 

Researchers have begun to compile examples of these "eco-evolutionary dynamics." The new study offers some of the most comprehensive evidence yet that evolution can drive ecological change.

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Farming cockroaches? Little bugs could become big business

Farming cockroaches? Little bugs could become big business | InsectNews | Scoop.it

China's cockroach industry is booming, but the country's affinity for the insect is spreading worldwide.

According to the Times, China has about 100 cockroach farms, and that number is growing. Why? Because some Chinese can’t get enough of the bugs. The insects are eaten, used in traditional Chinese medicine or used in cosmetics.

 

Chinese pharmaceutical companies are researching if roaches can be used to treat baldness, cancer and AIDS. Chinese cosmetic companies use the cellulose from the creature’s wings.

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Brood Ball-Mediated Transmission of Microbiome Members in the Dung Beetle, Onthophagus taurus (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae)

Brood Ball-Mediated Transmission of Microbiome Members in the Dung Beetle, Onthophagus taurus (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) | InsectNews | Scoop.it

Insects feeding on plant sap, blood, and other nutritionally incomplete diets are typically associated with mutualistic bacteria that supplement missing nutrients. Herbivorous mammal dung contains more than 86% cellulose and lacks amino acids essential for insect development and reproduction. Yet one of the most ecologically necessary and evolutionarily successful groups of beetles, the dung beetles (Scarabaeinae) feeds primarily, or exclusively, on dung. These associations suggest that dung beetles may benefit from mutualistic bacteria that provide nutrients missing from dung. The nesting behaviors of the female parent and the feeding behaviors of the larvae suggest that a microbiome could be vertically transmitted from the parental female to her offspring through the brood ball.

 

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Midget male meloid mates with mega mama

Midget male meloid mates with mega mama | InsectNews | Scoop.it

Many species of blister beetles exhibit tremendous size variability, and a unique aspect of some species’ mating behavior is the cantharidin-packed spermatophore produced by males and transferred to females during mating. (Cantharidin is a toxic defensive compound that serves as a very effective deterrent to predation.) The spermatophores are energetically “expensive” to produce and are transferred to females during relatively short-lived mating aggregations. Mating in some species may take up to 24–48 hours, thus reducing the opportunities for multiple matings, and as a result males of long-mated species end up investing rather heavily in a limited number of females compared to males that mate more often. These features lead to size assortative mating (Alcock & Hanley 1987), with males showing a preference for larger females (that are presumably more fecund) and females preferring larger males to maximize the amount of cantharidin that they receive or to ensure receipt of a spermatophore large enough to fertilize their full complement of eggs. Medium-sized individuals, likewise, would choose the largest of the remaining individuals, leaving the smallest individuals to mate among themselves. Alcock & Hanley (1987) also note, however, that not all species of blister beetles exhibit size assortative mating, even though they form large mating aggregations and individuals vary greatly in size. I have not seen any reference to size assortative mating in Pyrota bilineata; however, this example seems to suggest that the behavior is not practiced by this species. This could be due to shorter mating times (leading to more opportunities for mating) or a range of variation in body size that is not sufficient to consistently favor the behavior.

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Beetles and Ants: Strange Bedfellows?

Beetles and Ants: Strange Bedfellows? | InsectNews | Scoop.it

 

It is generally thought that ants are aggressive and attack everything they can get their jaws on. However, in the course of their evolution, several insect species have succeeded in adapting to life among ants. They do this to flee predators, take advantage of resources left over by the ants, and even feed on ant eggs and larvae. Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of the complex interactions between ants and their roommates, or inquilines, as they are called in the scientific jargon.

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Woman's ear turns BLACK after it is bitten by a spider

Woman's ear turns BLACK after it is bitten by a spider | InsectNews | Scoop.it

A Dutch woman’s ear turned black after she was bitten by a poisonous spider in Italy.

 

Part of the 22-year-old’s ear was liquefied by the Mediterranean recluse spider’s venom and the skin and cartilage died.

 

The woman’s experience is thought to be the first evidence that recluse spider venom can destroy cartilage.

Matti Virtala's insight:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/11/poor-misunderstood-brown-recluse/ - Why You Need Not Fear the Poor, Misunderstood Brown Recluse Spider

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Even scientists who study bugs have an irrational fear of spiders

Even scientists who study bugs have an irrational fear of spiders | InsectNews | Scoop.it

If you have arachnophobia — an irrational and excessive fear of spiders and other arachnids (such as scorpions) — you’re not alone.

Far from it. An estimated 9 million American adults (3.5 percent of all adults in the country) — experience some kind of dread and panic whenever they encounter one of these eight-legged, multiple-eyed, carnivorous creatures.

 

In fact, even many entomologists — scientists who study bugs of all kinds — are scared of spiders, according to a fun and fascinating paper published in the fall issue of the American Entomologist.

 

In the paper, Richard Vetter, a retired arachnologist from the University of California, Riverside, surveyed 41 entomologists who willingly admitted to having some level of irrational aversion to spiders. Most had only a mild fear (Vetter refers to them as “arachno-adverse”), but the aversion was strong enough to cause them to react differently to spiders than to other bugs, even such disgust-triggering insects as cockroaches and maggots.

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Are species theoretical objects?

Are species theoretical objects? | InsectNews | Scoop.it

It is often claimed that species are the units of evolution, but this is not defined or clearly explained. In this paper I will argue that species are phenomenal objects that stand in need of explanation, but that they are not objects required by any theory of biology. I further define, or rather describe, species as the genealogical cluster of various lineages at the genetic, haplotype, genomic, organismic, and population level, in keeping with my previous discussions.

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Ants on guard

Ants on guard | InsectNews | Scoop.it

By living together, the ants and plants can help each other. Their interactions are an example of symbiosis. Symbiosis is a relationship between two different species that live in close contact. Sometimes one organism even lives inside the other. When symbiosis benefits both organisms, it’s called mutualism.

 

In this story, we will explore several ways in which ants and plants share a mutualistic relationship. The benefits they swap often can take different forms. Some ants cut down interloper plants growing near their host plant. Other ants help a plant obtain more nutrients. And sometimes, a third organism will try to take advantage of these benefits too. For example, some spiders exploit the ant bodyguards to protect themselves from predators.

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Termites Line Nests With Feces as Natural Antibiotic

Termites Line Nests With Feces as Natural Antibiotic | InsectNews | Scoop.it

Worldwide, the destructive insects cause roughly $40 billion a year in damages to homes and other wooden structures. Much of the havoc is wreaked by the Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) which, researchers have discovered, has some pretty crappy defenses against microbe-based pesticides.

 

According to findings published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, C. formosanus uses its feces as a building material when constructing its nest. The feces promotes a thriving bacterial community which in turn provides the termite with a natural antimicrobial that wards off pathogens — both those found in nature and those introduced to the colony by pesky human exterminators.

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Beetle Battles: The Secret World of Leg Wrestling and Abdomen Squeezing

Beetle Battles: The Secret World of Leg Wrestling and Abdomen Squeezing | InsectNews | Scoop.it

This is the frog-legged leaf beetle (Sagra buqueti), and there’s a good chance those gigantic gams are his weapons.

Found in the jungles of Southeast Asia, this brightly coloured, iridescent species can grow up to 5 cm long. Unlike its namesake, it doesn’t use its hind legs for jumping, instead they’re used to cling onto stems and foliage while it eats, its grip aided by scores of tiny hair follicles that cover the surface of the leg. But there could be more to those legs than just grip, because look at the difference between the males and females.

 

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Beetle moms show clear signs of maternal instincts and care

Beetle moms show clear signs of maternal instincts and care | InsectNews | Scoop.it

Hidden in the thick foliage of tropical forests a subfamily of colorful beetles–the Chrysomelidae–may be hiding the secrets to the earliest stages of social behavior. Remarkably these beetles show explicit signs of maternal instincts and care.

While guarding her larvae, mothers of one species of these beetles reacted aggressively by charging to the edge of a leaf when a thin stick was introduced to the area by an observer. Charges, stamping and shaking continued for a short period of time after the stimulus was removed. A strong reaction was also directed toward  a camera held closely under and to the side of the natal leaf.


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Research finds that homosexuality in insects and spiders is a case of mistaken identity

Research finds that homosexuality in insects and spiders is a case of mistaken identity | InsectNews | Scoop.it

 Many species of insects and spiders engage in homosexual behavior, like courting, mounting, and trying to mate with members of the same sex. But it is unclear what role evolution plays in this curious situation. Like heterosexual behavior, it takes time and energy and can be dangerous – and it lacks the potential payoff of procreation.

Now Dr. Inon Scharf of Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology and Dr. Oliver Martin of ETH Zurich have found that homosexual behavior in bugs is probably accidental in most cases. In the rush to produce offspring, bugs do not take much time to inspect their mates' gender, potentially leading to same-sex mating. The study, a comprehensive review of research on insects and spiders, was published in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

"Insects and spiders mate quick and dirty," Dr. Scharf observes. "The cost of taking the time to identify the gender of mates or the cost of hesitation appears to be greater than the cost of making some mistakes."

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Beetles Show There Is Such Thing as a Free Lunch, and It's a Weapon Attached to Your Face

Beetles Show There Is Such Thing as a Free Lunch, and It's a Weapon Attached to Your Face | InsectNews | Scoop.it

If the rhinoceros beetle were the size of an actual rhinoceros, its horn could be 16 feet long. Male beetles grow this gargantuan face-fork so they can win mates (why else?). And even though evolutionary science would predict that the beetle pays a price for this appendage, it seems to come absolutely free.

Erin McCullough, a PhD student at the University of Montana, Missoula, and her advisor, Douglas Emlen, have been putting rhinoceros beetles through the wringer to try and find the cost they pay for their giant horns. Individual males grow horns of widely varying sizes. In the Japanese rhinoceros beetle, Trypoxylus dichotomus, horns range from a stubby 7 millimeters to a towering 32. In other species, the largest horns are 10 times the length of the smallest ones.

In a previous paper, the researchers showed that larger horns—somehow—don't hurt the rhinoceros beetle's ability to fly. Now, they measured the horns of T. dichotomus beetles and compared their size to the insects' legs, wings, eyes, and genitalia. They also tested the strength of the beetles' immune systems. And by marking beetles with paint, releasing them outdoors, and recapturing them later from the same area, the researchers assessed whether larger horns make a beetle more likely to die.

The result was a big goose egg. Nothing. If you're a rhinoceros beetle, there is apparently no trade-off to growing the biggest horn you can.

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Nasty or nice? Designer's "Coleoptera" bioplastic is made from dead beetles

Nasty or nice? Designer's "Coleoptera" bioplastic is made from dead beetles | InsectNews | Scoop.it

Might we someday be eating with spoons and cups made with dead beetle shells? Dutch designer Aagje Hoekstra certainly hopes so; the Utrecht School of Arts graduate recently debuted the material at Eindhoven's Dutch Design Week that is made out of shells sourced from dead darkling beetles.

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25 Creepiest Insects From Around The World

25 Creepiest Insects From Around The World | InsectNews | Scoop.it

f you think you can handle the creep factor, we welcome you to venture into our list of 25 creepiest insects from around the world.

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Newly discovered beetles construct private homes out of leaf holes and feces

Newly discovered beetles construct private homes out of leaf holes and feces | InsectNews | Scoop.it

Scientists have discovered two new species of leaf beetles in southern India that display a novel way of using leaf holes and their fecal pellets to build shelters – a nesting behavior previously not known among leaf beetles.

 

Discovered in the forests of the Western Ghats in the states of Karnataka and Kerala, the scientists have named these pin-head sized leaf beetles Orthaltica syzygium and Orthaltica terminalia, after the plants they feed on: Syzygium species (e.g., the Java plum) and Terminalia species (e.g., the flowering murdah). Their findings were recently published in the journal Zookeys.

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